wineletter
GLOSSARY
Adega
The Portuguese word for a group of infrastructures where wine is made and aged. Contrary to the underground cellar, which is ideal for aging wines, the adega is normally built above ground. When one intends to use the facilities for the aging of wines, it is recommended that they have some form of insulation and acclimatization. The aging of dessert wines, such as Sherries and Port, is always done in adegas above ground, given that they are special wines. The word can also be used to designate a company whose aim is making, aging and/or selling wine.
Aromas
Natural organic substances present in wine. According to technical wine tasting terminology, this term should be reserved for fragrances that are perceived through the post-nasal route when a wine is savoured. It is different from the smell or odour of the wine which is obtained directly by placing the nose close to the glass. Today, in normal everyday language, the word aroma is used to describe both the fragrances that are identified through the direct nasal route or the indirect post-nasal passages. In wine tasting, it is necessary to distinguish between three categories of aromas: 1 - Primary aromas, or varietal aromas, are those that are present in the must and are transmuted to the wines. They are very delicate aromas which are discernable mostly in very young and fresh white wines. Certain very elegant white wines (Riesling, muscatel, gewürztraminer, alvarinho, etc.) derive their best fruity characteristics from these aromas. 2 - Secondary aromas are produced during fermentation, when the wine acquires vinous aromas mixed with varietal aromas and those of fermentation. A wine possesses varied aromatic qualities when the varietal aromas are dominant. Fermentation aromas are quite vulnerable and disappear after a year or two. Wines that are known for their primary and secondary aromas never age. 3 – A wine’s bouquet consists of the tertiary aromas, or aging aromas that develop in the cask (oxidization aromas) or in the bottle (reduction aromas). Great wines have to spend several years in a bottle for the desired bouquet to manifest itself and reach its peak. The bouquet has nothing in common with the primary and secondary aromas. Only great wines possess the necessary characteristics to develop their bouquet as proof of their complexity. Tertiary aromas can have meaty (game, leather), balsamic (resin, wood) and especially smokey (smoke, tobacco, tar) notes to it. Over 500 different aromas have been identified in relation to wine.
Avesso
A high quality grape variety grown mainly in the sub-region of Baião, but which has also spread to neighbouring sub-regions such as Amarante, Paiva and Sousa. It produces wines with a very intense pale straw colour with greenish shades and its aromas range from fruity (orange and peach) to almonds (nutty) and floral, however ‘fruity’ is the dominant aroma of this grape. It can also be described as delicate, fine, subtle, complex, slightly tart, fresh, harmonious, full and persistent. This scope of aromas only reveals itself some months after vinification. It is a very robust and rustic variety, with medium fertility and, on average, produces 1 or 2 blossoms per shoot. This grape variety produces medium sized and medium-compact bunches, thus producing medium yields. It is an early budding variety (on par with Alvarinho) and medium ripening (on par with the Pedernã and before the Loureiro).
Aging
The process by which a wine matures in wood casks (barrels, pipas) or in bottles. Aging implies a restricted access of oxygen that helps the development of the wine, as well as the pronounced presence of wood tannins and the perfumed aromas and spices. Wines age in young or old wood. Young wood loses its ability to transfer woody flavours to the wine after six or seven years, albeit maintaining a controlled oxidization. Bottle aging is also very important to round off the wines. The great sparkling wines also age in the bottle, absorbing yeast under the pressure of the carbonic anhydride and thus developing its best aromas. Jerez wines (manzanillas, finos e amontillados) undergo a special (aerobic) aging so that they develop the veil of yeasts (the flower). In all AO’s (Appellations of Origin), it is the duly regulated minimum period of time required for a wine before it can be sold.
Aftertaste
Term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. A great wine always leaves an enduring aftertaste. A very brief and dry aftertaste is synonymous with volatile acidity.
Alcohol content
Percentage of alcohol – measured in degrees Gay Lussac – which a particular wine contains. It is determined by measuring the quantity of alcohol that exists in 100 litres of wine. Therefore, a wine with 11º is one in which contains 11 litres of pure alcohol in 100 litres of wine. It is shown on the bottle as “11º vol.”. The potential alcohol content is the estimated percentage of alcohol contained in the must before the fermentation of the sugar.
Age
In wines, the age is calculated from the date of the harvest and should appear on the label or bottle neck.
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